February 7, 2008
I'm happy to announce that DisplayFusion v2.0 was a huge success! On it's first day after being released it chalked up over 8,000 downloads within the first 24 hours. With this flurry of downloads came a number of bug reports as well, most of them relating to minor issues or issues that were hardware specific. I have done my best to keep on top of the issues over the last 4 days and I've bundled all of the fixes into the latest release, v2.0.1. I'd like to give a big thank you to everyone who has reported the issues so far, and to those who helped me with testing this new release. DisplayFusion wouldn't be as solid as it is today without everyone's help.
Now, down to business. The change log shows over a dozen changes in this release, so I won't list them all here. Little things like grammatical mistakes, tab order and control focus issues have all been addressed. Along with bigger things like window spanning now working in all situations, and DisplayFusion properly detecting resolution changes so it can automatically adjust your wallpaper. Some new things were added as well, like the ability to rename custom hotkeys and 2 new system tray menu items for going to the next random image or "freezing" the current random image if you are using the random wallpaper option. If you are interested in reading about all the changes included I invite you to take a look at the full change log.
Thank you all for your continued support, and I hope you enjoy this new release of DisplayFusion!
February 3, 2008
After over a month of development I am proud to announce the release of DisplayFusion 2.0! This new version represents a major change for both DisplayFusion, and the way I am supporting future development of the project. DisplayFusion 2.0 includes some fantastic new functionality, like wallpaper changing on a timer and fully customizable hotkeys, but the single biggest change is the addition of a Pro version. The Pro version contains features that go above and beyond basic hotkeys and desktop wallpaper. For example, in the Pro version you can have your wallpaper change automatically ever few minutes or hours. It also includes the ability to fully customize your own hotkeys. For example, if you're a developer you could create a hotkey that centred a window and resized it to 800x600 for testing webpage layout. Or you could create a series of hotkeys for tiling windows to the 4 corners of the screen. Your imagination is the limit! If you would like more information on what features are included in the Free or Pro versions I invite you to check out the version comparison chart. If you would like a full rundown on the changes included in 2.0 please take a look at the change log.
Something new that I've decided to try for this release is a flash demo. If you head over to the DisplayFusion page you will see a flash video demonstrating most of the functionality of DisplayFusion, including both Free and Pro features.
One last note: Anyone who has previously donated any amount towards any of my software development should find a DisplayFusion Pro license key in their email. If you have previously donated your time or money to help with any of my projects and you didn't receive your license key please contact me and I'll get it sorted out as soon as possible.
Thank you everyone, and happy downloading!
January 25, 2008
I'm very happy to report that DisplayFusion has passed a significant milestone this week: it has now been downloaded over 100,000 times! This far exceeds any expectations I had, as this averages more than 20,000 downloads per month since it's release. Party time!
Now for some future news. Significant progress has been made on v2.0, which will be the next release. It has some spiffy new features and a pile of bug fixes. There are also some other big changes that I'll announce once v2.0 gets released. I'd like to send out a big thanks to everyone that has donated over the last few months as I have been able to cover the hosting costs for DisplayFusion. This has allowed me to not worry about hosting costs or paying bills, and instead let me focus my attention elsewhere. v2.0 is nearing completion and should be ready for release in the next couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted.
December 24, 2007
I just want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a fantastic holiday season! All the best wishes to you and your family for a healthy and happy 2008. My family and I have had a fantastic year, filled with exciting job changes, international travel and great health. I hope you find that 2008 is as good to you as 2007 was to us.
December 5, 2007
Hot on the heels of being featured in the latest issue of CHIP Magazine, I am pleased to announce the release of DisplayFusion v1.5.0! This is a significant release, as it addresses (hopefully) many of the Active Desktop issues that appeared in previous versions. These Active Desktop issues include everything from wallpaper being shifted incorrectly to wallpaper not appearing on 1 or more monitors. I have done a lot of reading regarding Active Desktop and have completely re-written all the code that interfaces with it. This new version also introduces a new feature called wallpaper shifting. Now you can "shift" your wallpaper on a per monitor basis, to ensure that spanned wallpaper lines up correctly, or just so you can tweak what parts of fitted wallpaper get trimmed. Here is an abbreviated list of changes that are included in this release:
I have also updated the online help and screenshots (which weren't updated since v1.1) so it should reflect the current feature set. If you have any questions about usage, or just want to see what it looks like before you try it out, head over to the DisplayFusion page. As usual, if you are running a version prior to v1.5.0, DisplayFusion will prompt you to upgrade next time it starts up (if you have update checking enabled). If you don't have update checking enabled, head over to the DisplayFusion page right now to grab the new version. A big thanks to everyone who submitted feature requests, bug reports and helped with testing. I wouldn't be able to release these improved versions without everyone's help. Thanks!
December 5, 2007
Do you wish you could use your favourite Binary Fortress Software application without having to install it? Perhaps you want to take it on a USB key to your friends house, or perhaps you just don't like installing software. Well, now you don't need to install anything. I have repackaged 4 of my applications as zip files so you won't need to install them.
I will be updating some other applications very shortly, so if you don't see your favourite listed here don't worry. For everyone that does like to install an application before using it, don't worry. The installer versions are still available and always will be.
December 5, 2007
To anyone that stays current with the latest technology news, DRM is nothing new. It's hated by everyone except the record labels, and certain countries even have strict laws preventing people from circumventing it. It's a constant battle between fair use and preventing piracy, but the battle seems to be swaying far, far away from fair use. Sometimes being so close to the technology industry obscures how good a job the music industry has done at keeping DRM a secret. Ask anyone in I.T. what DRM is and they'll shake their fist at it. Ask anyone else and you might just get a blank stare. My parents, for example, are not computer savvy people and have no clue what DRM is. All they know about DRM is that if they buy their music online they can never buy another brand of MP3 player or use a different music program. After I released iTunes Sync I was given a glimpse into just how secret DRM really is. Here is an actual email that I received from someone quite recently.
I have a Samsung Sansa e260R that was given to me to replace an iPod Shuffle that broke. I used your software to sync my iTunes which included both songs copied from my CDs and songs purchased via iTunes. Your software worked great, except it would not copy purchased songs. It said it was copying all the files and that all files were copied, but when I look in my mp3 player, only those tunes that I did not purchase appear. Is there anything I can do to use these song I paid for? Thank you for your work! Sherry
Sherry has no idea what is going on with her music, and no idea why she can't listen to her music on her new MP3 player. She thinks that she is doing something wrong. Apple never warned her that her music was forever locked to iTunes and her iPod, so now she is out of luck. Here's another email.
Dear Sir, I'm trying to move my iTunes library to my new AT&T Samsung Sync phone. It has a microSD card, I need help moving this. I'm not a good computer person, but I know that I should be able to put my music I paid for on what I want. Thanks, Joe
Joe has just discovered the wonderful world of DRM for the first time, and only now he realizes how badly he has been scammed by Apple and the music industry as a whole. What can we do to prevent these emails in the future? Eliminating DRM would be nice, and some pioneering record labels are experimenting with this, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. What we really need is less-restrictive legislation when it comes to circumventing or removing the DRM. The DMCA in the United States gives far too much power to the record labels and no power to the people. Unfortunately the Canadian government has been under pressure lately to implement something similar. How can we stop laws like this from robbing people of their right to fair use? We need to spread the word. Tell your mom. Tell your aunt that is thinking about buying an MP3 player. Tell your cousin who just installed iTunes for the first time. Everyone needs to know this dirty secret, not just the tech crowd.
December 5, 2007
For those of you that speak German I invite you to pickup the latest issue of CHIP Magazine. DisplayFusion has found a home amongst it's pages, and comes bundled on the DVD as well. As an added bonus, CHIP Magazine has titled DisplayFusion as the "Tool des Monats", or in English, "Tool of the Month". I couldn't believe it when I first saw it, thank you CHIP! This is my second time being included with CHIP Magazine, so I think it's time I learned German so I can figure out whether it's a good review or not.
December 4, 2007
I have been running WordPress for quite some time now and have gone from around a dozen visitors per day to around 2000 per day. I have also had the privilege of having 8 of my applications submitted to Digg, with 1 of them making the front page and receiving over 1400 Diggs. Along with Digg I have also been featured on Lifehacker numerous times, and many other sites. Dealing with the steady traffic is quite easy if you have a good hosting provider, but dealing with sudden and unexpected traffic spikes can prove disastrous without the right supporting software and hardware. Once your site has made it to the front page of a popular website you have 1 chance to accept that traffic. If your website can't handle that traffic then too bad, those people aren't coming back tomorrow. Now is your chance to shine, so you'd better be ready. Here are the things that helped me weather my traffic storms.
This plugin saved my butt the first time I got Dugg. I had been messing around with WP-Cache as a way to try and save a few CPU cycles on my already overworked web server, then bam, I got Dugg. The traffic flooded in and the server never broke a sweat. These caching plugins are pure gold. They work by generating a dynamic page just once, saving the resulting HTML as a static file, then serving up that pre-generated page instead of hitting the database again and again for the same content. Genius!
If you're hosted by some cut-rate provider, and stuffed onto a server with 100 other websites, you're probably not going to do so well with a traffic spike. Assuming your web host doesn't disable or suspend your account because of excessive CPU usage, your server probably won't be able to keep up with the increased requests. About a year ago I moved my all of my websites onto my new "virtual private server" (VPS), hosted by Rackforce. I went with their cheapest Windows option and it has proved to be the best decision I could have made for my web hosting. They are affordable and I have experienced virtually no downtime. I get my own virtual server, but the best part is they tell you what hardware you're running on, and how many other virtual servers you're sharing with. In my case I'm sharing with 4 other people, and even at the height of my biggest traffic spike, my server's CPU never went above 25%. It just cruised along quietly filling requests on my 10mb unmetered connection. I can't thank Rackforce enough for their amazing support, and their extremely reliable servers.
PHP running on IIS 6 is a real pig. It's slow, and uses lots of memory. Not good. Normally PHP running on IIS spawns a PHP process for each request, completes the request then closes. This takes a crazy amount of time and CPU cycles for each request. Enter FastCGI. It's an awesome little utility for IIS that spawns a set number of PHP processes then keeps them running to handle requests. That way there is always a PHP process waiting to work, and I don't have to wait for it to start up or shut down. FastCGI is the best thing to happen to PHP on IIS since... well, it's the best thing ever.
4. Have a Lightweight Website Theme
I can't stress how important it is to have a lightweight theme. If your theme is built using 100 sliced up images, you had better have a fantastic server. Let's say that you get Dugg, and you receive 2000 visitors per hour. None of these visitors will have any of those images cached, and none ever will. 99% of the Digg traffic just comes to check out that 1 page. So that means your server needs to be able to handle 200,000 requests per hour (or 55 requests per second) AND still handle and process requests for dynamic content, like PHP pages. Now what if your site only needs 31 requests to build the complete page, like mine currently does? That means that your server only needs to be able to handle less than 20 requests per second. That is a substantial difference, and something that you should consider. To help you test how lightweight your site currently is, I would recommend using the Web Page Analyzer. It's a handy little tool that will tell you total page size, number of requests and the size of each requested item. You can see which images you're wasting bandwidth on, which CSS files could be merged into 1 request and many other useful things.
I hope this has helped you get some ideas on how to traffic-proof your server. Remember, you don't always need to spend a lot of money to handle a high traffic volume, you just need the right tools.
November 30, 2007
We went out for lunch today and enjoyed a nice buffet. At the end, my fortune cookie informed me that "Vacation can wait. Stick to the project till the end". Arg! However, my team leader's fortune cookie said something to the effect of "don't worry about the details". So maybe the project won't be that hard to finish after all.