Back in 2009 I did a lot of web development and that usually results in changing around the Windows host file all the time. Back then I used Windows Vista for windows development and wrote a quick sidebar gadget that can view, edit and temporarily comment out entries in your host file. It runs on Windows 7 as well if you unzip it and put the KCHostEditor.gadget folder into: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets
Then you can just right click on the desktop an select "Gadgets" and add it. Just tried it out before running of so I'm not sure if it works for editing, I remember that I had to be admin on the machine. The machine I'm on now just gives me standard user, for now.... 😉 But try it out if you like and if you want to do your own gadget refer to this guide: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/bb456468(v=vs.85).aspx
I store all my memories on Picasa! Even spent a lot of time to scan all old pictures and upload them. Trusting a provider to keep your data safe from data loss is something that doesn't make me sleep well at night. Even though I trust the guys at Google to take care of the data I want a backup. Before I used Backupify.com but they don't provide this service anymore. The Picasa application it self is really bad! Maybe if your an old iTunes user you can figure out how it works? All kidding aside... It actually didn't manage to download all my pictures and got some strange errors. So I looked around the internet for a third party application for downloading all my content but I couldn't find anything useful!
I did how ever find a great application named Picasa Web Sync (http://www.geekytidbits.com/picasawebsync/) written by Brady Holt. Great peace of software for syncing up to Picasa but not the way I want to do it! So i started to check out the API for developing my own application, I took a quick look at the Google API Client Libraries. Not that surprising the java and python libraries was awesome and complete. The .Net C# however is not that good! There are things missing and stuff that doesn't work, spelling mistakes and so on. Google usually delivers above and beyond but in this case not so much.
How ever I started to code and used what I could from the client libraries, mostly to parse the feeds from the API. Then I realized there was a load of videos in my albums so I started to try to download them. Nothing in the documentation, that I could find anyway. But I found a way to do it and now I have a complete offline backup of my Picasa Web Albums, on a USB drive... Encrypted of course!
So the first working version of this console application is available for download! Written in c# and source will be posted soon for those who like that.
I'm currently involved in a project for Missing People Sweden (MPS). MPS is organizes volunteers to do big search operation for lost people. I was one of the volunteers last fall and saw first hand what a huge task it was to organize all the people and search area. So I went online the same night and wrote a blog entry on my Swedish blog. I questioned why no one could help this organisation with some technical support and build them a system to take care of all this. That's how Missing People Sweden Techsupport was born. First we got put of by the organisation due to an other company that wanted to build it for them. A few month later they delivered a system that was unusable!
So once again I reached out to my contacts in the business and asked them to join me in my quest for this. Unfortunately many of them was busy on other projects or didn't have the drive anymore after being put of the first time. But i managed to get the best project manager I ever worked with to join in. We got a MVC programmer and a jQuery guy on board. We had a few meetings with the, not so technical guys, at MPS. So they din't know tech so well but they are really good at finding people. So we asked them what they needed, what would help them. A few meetings in I felt that we needed to show them something, show that we do stuff not just talk. So I made a quick demo of how we could help them do search segments on a map. Using Google Maps API and some spare time I made a really easy prof of concept.
The other system delivered to them, that they discarded, was 1000 man hours of development. This demo I made was 2 hours of work one night. It has now been used several times to do maps for them when actually looking for real lost people. My point here is to really listen to the customer and give them what they need not what you think they need or whats cool to do with tech!